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The Rules of Implicit Evaluation by Race, Religion, and Age

August 20, 2014 Comments off

The Rules of Implicit Evaluation by Race, Religion, and Age
Source: Psychological Science

The social world is stratified. Social hierarchies are known but often disavowed as anachronisms or unjust. Nonetheless, hierarchies may persist in social memory. In three studies (total N > 200,000), we found evidence of social hierarchies in implicit evaluation by race, religion, and age. Participants implicitly evaluated their own racial group most positively and the remaining racial groups in accordance with the following hierarchy: Whites > Asians > Blacks > Hispanics. Similarly, participants implicitly evaluated their own religion most positively and the remaining religions in accordance with the following hierarchy: Christianity > Judaism > Hinduism or Buddhism > Islam. In a final study, participants of all ages implicitly evaluated age groups following this rule: children > young adults > middle-age adults > older adults. These results suggest that the rules of social evaluation are pervasively embedded in culture and mind.

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When the Economy Falters, Do People Spend or Save? Responses to Resource Scarcity Depend on Childhood Environments

July 10, 2013 Comments off

When the Economy Falters, Do People Spend or Save? Responses to Resource Scarcity Depend on Childhood Environments (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science

Just as modern economies undergo periods of boom and bust, human ancestors experienced cycles of abundance and famine. Is the adaptive response when resources become scarce to save for the future or to spend money on immediate gains? Drawing on life-history theory, we propose that people’s responses to resource scarcity depend on the harshness of their early-life environment, as reflected by childhood socioeconomic status (SES). In the three experiments reported here, we tested how people from different childhood environments responded to resource scarcity. We found that people who grew up in lower-SES environments were more impulsive, took more risks, and approached temptations more quickly. Conversely, people who grew up in higher-SES environments were less impulsive, took fewer risks, and approached temptations more slowly. Responses similarly diverged according to people’s oxidative-stress levels—a urinary biomarker of cumulative stress exposure. Overall, whereas tendencies associated with early-life environments were dormant in benign conditions, they emerged under conditions of economic uncertainty.

If We Go Over the Fiscal Cliff, Will People Spend or Save? Childhood Environments May Hold the Key

January 15, 2013 Comments off

When the Economy Falters Do People Spend or Save? Responses to Resource Scarcity Depend on Childhood Environments (PDF)

Source: Psychological Science

Just as modern economies undergo periods of boom and bust, human ancestors experienced cycles of abundance and famine. Is the adaptive response when resources become scarce to save for the future or to spend money on immediate gains? Drawing on life history theory, we propose that people’s responses to resource scarcity depend on the harshness of their early-life environment as reflected by childhood socioeconomic status. Three studies tested how people from different childhood environments respond to resource scarcity. As predicted, people who grew up in low-SES environments became more impulsive, more risk-seeking, and faster to approach temptations. Conversely, people who grew up in high-SES environments responded by becoming less impulsive, less risk-seeking, and slower to approach temptations. Responses similarly diverged based on people’s oxidative stress levels—a urinary biomarker of cumulative stress exposure. Overall, whereas tendencies associated with early-life environments were dormant in benign conditions, they emerged under economic uncertainty.

Parents are happier than non-parents, new research suggests

May 17, 2012 Comments off

Parents are happier than non-parents, new research suggestsSource: Psychological Science, forthcoming

New research by psychologists at three North American universities, including the University of British Columbia, finds that parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning from life than non-parents.

The findings, which contrast sharply with recent scholarship and popular beliefs, suggest that parents are happier caring for children than they are during other daily activities. The research also suggests that the benefits of parenthood appear more consistently in men and older and married parents.

To be published in the journal Psychological Science, the findings are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives than negatives, despite the added responsibilities. The research also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting may be a fundamental human need.

“This series of studies suggest that parents are not nearly the ‘miserable creatures’ we might expect from recent studies and popular representations,” says UBC Psychology Prof. Elizabeth Dunn, who co-authored the study with colleagues at the University of California, Riverside and Stanford University. “If you went to a large dinner party, our findings suggest that the parents in the room would be as happy or happier than those guests without children.”

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The Misperception of Sexual Interest

April 12, 2012 Comments off

The Misperception of Sexual Interest (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science

In the current study (N = 199), we utilized a speed-meeting methodology to investigate misperceptions of sexual interest. This method allowed us to evaluate the magnitude of men’s overperception of women’s sexual interest, to examine whether and how women misperceive men’s sexual interest, and to assess individual differences in susceptibility to sexual misperception. We found strong support for the prediction that women would underestimate men’s sexual interest. Men who were more oriented toward short-term mating strategies or who rated themselves more attractive were more likely to overperceive women’s sexual interest. The magnitude of men’s overperception of women’s sexual interest was predicted by the women’s physical attractiveness. We discuss implications of gender differences and within-sex individual differences in susceptibility to sexual misperception.

Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information

August 8, 2011 Comments off

Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science

Social transmission is everywhere. Friends talk about restau- rants, policy wonks rant about legislation, analysts trade stock tips, neighbors gossip, and teens chitchat. Further, such interpersonal communication affects everything from decision making and well-being (Asch, 1956; Mehl, Vazire, Holleran, & Clark, 2010) to the spread of ideas, the persistence of stereo- types, and the diffusion of culture (Heath, 1996; Heath, Bell, & Sternberg, 2001; Kashima, 2008; Schaller, Conway, & Tanchuk, 2002; Schaller & Crandall, 2004). But although it is clear that social transmission is both frequent and important, what drives people to share, and why are some stories and information shared more than others?

Traditionally, researchers have argued that rumors spread in the “3 Cs” — times of conflict, crisis, and catastrophe (e.g., wars or natural disasters; Koenig, 1985) ― and the major explanation for this phenomenon has been generalized anxiety (i.e., apprehension about negative outcomes). Such theories can explain why rumors flourish in times of panic, but they are less useful in explaining the prevalence of rumors in positive situations, such as the Cannes Film Festival or the dot-com boom. Further, although recent work on the social sharing of emotion suggests that positive emotion may also increase transmission, why emotions drive sharing and why some emotions boost sharing more than others remains unclear.

I suggest that transmission is driven in part by arousal. Physiological arousal is characterized by activation of the autonomic nervous system (Heilman, 1997), and the mobilization provided by this excitatory state may boost sharing. This hypothesis not only suggests why content that evokes more of certain emotions (e.g., disgust) may be shared more than other content (Heath et al., 2001; Luminet, Bouts, Delie, Manstead, & Rimé, 2000; Peters, Kashima, & Clark, 2009; see Rimé, 2009, for a review), but also suggests a more precise predic- tion, namely, that emotions characterized by high arousal, such as anxiety or amusement (Gross & Levenson, 1995), will boost sharing more than emotions characterized by low arousal, such as sadness or contentment.
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A Single Exposure to the American Flag Shifts Support Toward Republicanism up to 8 Months Later

July 14, 2011 Comments off

A Single Exposure to the American Flag Shifts Support Toward Republicanism up to 8 Months Later (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science

There is scant evidence that incidental cues in the environment significantly alter people’s political judgments and behavior in a durable way. We report that a brief exposure to the American flag led to a shift toward Republican beliefs, attitudes, and voting behavior among both Republican and Democratic participants, despite their overwhelming belief that exposure to the flag would not influence their behavior. In Experiment 1, which was conducted online during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, a single exposure to an American flag resulted in a significant increase in participants’ Republican voting intentions, voting behavior, political beliefs, and implicit and explicit attitudes, with some effects lasting 8 months after the exposure to the prime. In Experiment 2, we replicated the findings more than a year into the current Democratic presidential term. These results constitute the first evidence that nonconscious priming effects from exposure to a national flag can bias the citizenry toward one political party and can have considerable durability.

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